Idle Quaker Burial Ground: The unusual Yorkshire burial ground with stunning valley views

In the aftermath of the English Civil War of 1642-1651 Quakers (also known as the Society of Friends) were a dissenting Protestant group which rejected the authority of the established Church of England.

With views considered blasphemous, their leaders were persecuted and the burial of Quakers was not permitted in consecrated ground. This led to private graveyards being established.

Quakers did not have churches but “meeting houses” for their congregations, and each had a burial ground.

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This one, overlooking the Aire Valley to the north of Bradford, is unusual in that there was no known Friends Meeting House in Idle.

The burial ground in IdleThe burial ground in Idle
The burial ground in Idle

The plot was bought by a local Quaker, Zachary Yewdall, who with another man had been jailed in 1661 for praemunire - refusing to take an Oath of Allegiance.

After his release Yewdall donated land for this small burial ground on Westfield Lane and the first interment was in 1690.

According to the Thackley and Idle History website an early burial in 1690 was that of Jeremiah Yewdall, son of Zachary, whose death may well have prompted the latter to provide the land. The year 1690 is carved in stone above the gate.

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A 19th century historian, William Cudworth, concluded that “the Yewdalls gave the ground for this quiet resting-place, not only for their own family circle, but for others of the persuasion called Quakers.”

He found that several other Yewdalls were buried there.

The burial ground is now mostly overgrown and just a couple of gravestones are visible, their inscriptions badly worn.

In the past it has suffered from vandalism. In February 2020 plans were approved to clear the site of vegetation and litter, replace coping stones missing from the walls, and provide an information board detailing the history of Bradford Quakerism.

However, the plans have been on hold since the Covid pandemic.